City Paper Widget

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's the Deal with the Census Forms in the Mail?

Tens of thousands of DC and Maryland homes have received or soon will receive an envelope in their mailboxes marked "Your response is required by law". That's because the part of DC west of 7th Street NW, plus much of Montgomery County, Maryland, has been chosen as the venue to test new technology in preparation for the 2020 Census.

The orange dotted line shows the area to be surveyed
"It's the only area of the country that's actually doing an actual census," Al Millikan of US Census Bureau told Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC)  6E/Shaw on June 3.

At the ANC6E meeting on June 3, Al Millikan of the US Census Bureau appeared to announce the availability of temporary jobs, full or part time, of several months' duration, paying $17 an hour or more. He said that DC west of 7th Street, starting at New York and Pennsylvania Avenues in the South and extending all the way north to the city line, was being surveyed.

"There's going to be use of technologies -- I-phones, GPS -- that really haven't been used in the past census," Millikan said.

"In 2020, there might be a possibility of people able to fill their Census forms online," he also said.

Census employees would start being sent out about July 10 to contact people who had not responded on-line to the survey before July 1, Millikan said.

Millikan could not answer several questions ANC Commissioners had. For example, he failed to answer, twice, the same question from two Commissioners: Is participation mandatory?

"Everyone is expected to respond to the Census," was the closest he got to an answer.

Nor was Millikan particularly clear in response to a question about how the US Census Bureau was going to get the word out about the Census test, or about how Census enumerators will arrange to get access to high-rise buildings.

Millikan remarked that hiring preference was given to people who lived in the Census area. Someone asked Millikan, twice, if this meant that applicants from DC's three other quadrants were not eligible for Census jobs. After the second attempt, Millikan mentioned that he had interviewed people from Northeast and Southeast for jobs. While this did not directly answer the question, it seemed to indicate that all four quadrants were welcome.

The welcome screen of the census test
I received a notification from the Census in the mail and have just finished participating. It takes about 15 minutes.

My suggested improvement: To respond, you have to type in a URL from a piece of paper. The census bureau could provide an alternate shorter address formed with the help of a URL-shortener.

See a press release about the 2014 field test for the 2020 Census here. The field test also has a web page here.

ANC6E has a Youtube Channel, on which they post meetings in their entirety. See Millikan's appearance by clicking on this link and starting at time 9:00.

ANC6E is having its July meeting tomorrow night, July 1, at 6:30pm, at the Northwest One Library (155 L Street NW). See the agenda here. ANC6E will have its next regularly scheduled meeting in September.

1 comment:

  1. The decennial census is mandatory and noncompliance can result in a fine of I think up to $5000. However, no one is ever cited for violation, and never will be. The law is a tool they use to get people to care.

    Remember, larger enumerated populations mean more resources! Be counted!